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Van Hool creating 600 jobs with new Tennessee bus factory

The Belgian bus maker expects its U.S. facility to produce 400 buses annually, starting in early 2020.

Van Hool NV, an independent manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, plans to build a bus factory in Morristown TN, that will produce 400 buses and commuter coaches annually, creating 600 new jobs.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Rob Rolfe, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), were on hand for the announcement of the new factory, which is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2020.

“Van Hool’s decision to establish its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Morristown and create more than 600 jobs underscores the robust pro-growth environment of job creation we’ve fostered in Tennessee,” Haslam said.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the new site will take place at the end of this summer.

“We have over 30 years of experience in the North American market, where we have been successful with buses and coaches for private companies,” said Filip Van Hool, CEO at Van Hool. “We’ve delivered over 11,000 vehicles in North America since 1987. Based on this experience and through market research, we have learned that the public transportation market, with a total annual potential of 6,000 to 8,000 vehicles, offers opportunities for Van Hool.

“Because of the Buy America Act, our family business decided to explore a new manufacturing facility in the U.S.”

The 1982 Buy America Act requires vehicles supplied to public authorities to be assembled in the U.S., using only American steel and at least 70 percent of the vehicle’s parts from American suppliers.

Van Hool said the Tennessee factory is the next step in his group’s global growth strategy.

“The investment of more than $47 million confirms the more than 30-year presence of Van Hool on the American market,” he said. “Today we are looking forward to building a state-of-the-art bus factory in Morristown to provide the entire North American market with high-quality buses and commuter coaches for transportation agencies from 2020 onwards.

“The presence of highly-respected technical schools and well-trained employees, together with the support and cooperation of all the local stakeholders in Morristown, Hamblen County and Tennessee, convinced Van Hool’s executive board to make the largest investment outside of Belgium in Van Hool’s 71-year history.”

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